As wearable technology starts to take its place in the digital world, now is a good time to start asking questions. How will it be used? What will it be used for? How long until it hits mainstream?
The most commonly mentioned features for wearables are fitness and health tracking, voice commands, directional navigation, email notifications and text messaging. Although it will be possible to open emails/messages, will reading long chunks of text be rare? Will people use their wearables as a way to filter through emails and mark them as "read later" or simply as a notification device? How would you use yours?
It is important to remember that a wearable should be paired with a phone via Bluetooth (meaning a 5 meter connection bubble) at all times, as the phone drives the notifications to it. That also means that the phone will be always within easy reach, and will probably be used for more complex interactions.
Despite all these possibilities, it is important to understand how text and email rendering will occur. Initial testing of the Apple Watch by Litmus, specifically email, shows the following (Read the full article here):
- Apple are showing the plain text version of the email after a warning message advising you that the message contains elements that cannot be displayed
- If there is no plain text version of the email Apple will display a different message explaining that the full version of the email is not available on Apple Watch but can be viewed on your phone
- Links are disabled as there is no browser
- Addresses and phone numbers will link through to the relevant app on the watch
Are these displayed elements something that could be targeted through a plain text email, effectively making CTAs a 'callback' or 'find us here'? As with all emails, extensive testing is paramount.
Android, in turn, behaves slightly different. The Moto360, which is one of the most popular wearables for Android at the moment, opens the respective native app on the synced phone upon interacting with the notification.
It will certainly be interesting to see if and how people will use email with wearable technologies. This is something we will inevitably be using in the near future, and will possibly be as commonplace as your mobile phones.